As a sports-loving college student, Dan Buxton worked his way through the University of California, Santa Barbara at his local Play It Again Sports store. What began as a simple job to pay for school soon developed into an entrepreneurial career, as Dan fell in love with the Winmark business, brand and the culture around used sports gear.
After graduating, Dan partnered with his store manager to buy a Play It Again Sports franchise in Pasadena.
“I’ve always been into sports,” he said. “Once I started working at Play It Again Sports, I enjoyed it, both the sports side of it and the business side of it.”
More than 20 years later, Dan has become the sole owner of two Play It Again Sports locations – one in Pasadena that he acquired in 2007 and a newly opened store in La Mesa. He operates both businesses under two main guiding principles: stocking his stores with sporting equipment popular to the surrounding area and developing his stores’ culture.
Promoting a Winning Culture
Dan is an advocate of the Winmark model of sustainable business – the idea of recycling and reusing in multiple aspects of the business. From providing a community reusable value with quality used products to saving items from landfills, he takes pride in the successful, environmentally friendly model.
Dan implements this idea in his inventory as well as his employees and store culture.
Having acquired the Pasadena location from another owner, Dan wanted to make the store his own, starting with remodeling and remerchandising the location. He didn’t replace all the old staff, but rather saw the potential to preserve and coach many of them on the way he wanted his store run. It was important to him to develop experienced employees into leaders.
“Even if employees have bad habits, they can change,” Dan said. “You don’t have to get rid of old employees and get all new employees.”
In short, the goal was to promote a winning culture, focusing on strong customer service and getting his employees to believe the store could be successful – which Dan and his team have realized by growing the Pasadena store’s revenue by more than two-fold over the following 10 years.
Match the Local Sporting Trends
It’s essential for Play It Again Sports franchisees to know their market. What sports are popular in the area? What time of year are they popular? Are there plenty of existing leagues and athletes that will supply enough used merchandise to buy? Are customers interested in used sports gear, new sports gear or both?
When Dan was ready to open a second location, he considered the culture in a few communities before deciding Play It Again Sports would be successful in La Mesa after seeing that market’s active lifestyle.
Dan learns what activities are popular in an area by what quality used equipment locals bring through his doors while the store is acquiring inventory. For La Mesa, Dan foresees baseball, softball, fitness, golf and hockey equipment being his top sellers.
Dan’s new store has already exceeded Winmark’s expectations.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “Winmark wanted us to get to a certain level of used inventory prior to our Grand Opening, and we surpassed it way quicker than they expected us to.”
Through its participation in selling Dan their used sports gear and equipment, the community has shown Dan its eagerness to welcome Play It Again Sports as a new staple of La Mesa.
“People were coming in all the time wanting to buy stuff, but we weren’t selling quite yet,” Dan said. “They were getting more and more excited for the grand opening.”
Like other Winmark franchise owners, Dan uses his Play It Again Sports ownership to lift up his community. He works to promote La Mesa’s active lifestyle, providing the community an affordable, quality sporting goods retailer that encourages health and wellness.
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